Spotless beaches and 1,000-year-old buildings aside, Malta is a hub of cultural activity as attested by its annual International Arts Festival. Attendees at this year’s event are in for a special treat as golden city Valletta celebrates its status as European Capital of Culture for 2018. Alongside the festivities, visitors to Malta’s acclaimed International Arts Festival can expect to hear mesmerising soloists and chamber orchestras and witness breath-taking theatrical and contemporary dance displays. Whether you’re a paid-up lover of the arts or just interested in seeing a few of Malta’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, here are five reasons to visit the Malta International Arts Festival 29th June – 16th July 2018.
Surrounded by beautiful baroque buildings, there are few better places to kickstart first night proceedings than St. George’s Square. Opposite the Grandmaster’s Palace and in the heart of Valletta, the lively Big Band Brothers will open the 18-day festival. The 17-piece group have been making music since 2005 and are known for enjoying what they do as much as the crowds who gather to watch them perform.
Blue and gold are the usual shades of its skies, seas and architecture, but Malta’s International Arts Festival will embrace every colour under the sun this year and focus on the themes of diversity, passion and humanitarianism. Hotly-touted exhibition Exile Voices is going to tell the story of conflict-ridden, vulnerable societies through National Geographic photographer and humanitarian Reza Deghati’s emotive and gritty snapshots.
Brimming with raw emotion, critically acclaimed Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother promises to be a one-of-a-kind complex dance experience featuring live drummers and electric guitarists. Also predicted to sell out fast is Aria by NoGravity Dance Company. Savour the Barocco-inspired costumes, poetic singing and powerfully elegant aerial choreography. Fancy slipping on your own pair of dancing shoes? Dance Hybrid is a six-day, contemporary technique workshop for dance practitioners to polish their footwork.
The mosaic of culture that’s in store for all spans from spectacular puppet show, Wooden Circus by Karromato, to Motion in the City; where crowds can watch a team of self-coached free runners perform their most ambitious gymnastics yet. Meanwhile, BANDLI, an interactive, motion-controlled sound installation will dock beside the Triq Marina throughout the festivities. Every suspended chair plays the sound of a different instrument, and members of the public can sit and swing to their hearts content, triggering an entire musical ensemble using their bodies.
Accompanying the highly-anticipated silent screening of Phantom of the Opera, orchestra Minima are going to be performing live. The Bristol four-piece will incorporate notes on the cello, double bass, mandolin, autoharp, synthesiser, glockenspiel, dulcimer, baritone, acoustic and electric guitars to delight onlookers. Maltese singing sensation Nicola Said is on hand too, and the award-winning soprano certainly knows how to hit the high notes, after gracing world-renowned stages such as St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Barbican, and the Royal Opera House. Other mesmerising musical talents on the bill include the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra directed by Daniele Gatti and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.